Written by Maliika Walker
A blazing hot day in NYC set the mood for a pair of scorching hot performances from Ky-Mani Marley on Thursday, June 21, 2012. Ky-Mani treated fans to two shows in the NYC area that special day, a perfect way to end his four year hiatus. He made a few appearances since 2008, including two beautifully performed acoustic sets, but these shows were his first with a full band in four years.
Ky-Mani’s first show of the day took place outdoors on the Brooklyn Metro Tech campus. The temperature was a blazing hot 95 degrees with the sun acting as a microwave. The humidity suffocated everyone but that didn’t stop a jam packed crowd from checking out the Ky-Mani Marley show. Everyone was sweating profusely. It didn’t matter whether you were sitting in the shade or the sun. Once Ky-Mani’s band took the stage, a little after noon, the crowdnm began to clap and shout. The show was attended by a diverse crowd with many nationalities in attendance. I heard at least six different languages in my section alone. We were all there unified to hear Ky-Mani’s message to the people.
After a few technical issues the band began to play its introduction which included instrumentals of Roots Rock Reggae, among other classics. Excitement continued to build to a fevered pitch awaiting Ky-Mani’s entrance to the stage. The band began to play a song not yet released called, Praise to Jah, and the man everyone came to see entered the stage. It was so fitting for Ky-Mani to open the show with a song giving praise to the most high. He then proceeded to play a mix of his songs as well as his father’s classics. Some of the songs he performed from his catalog included New Heights, Hustler, Warrior, The March, Brave Ones, Armed and Dangerous and a few others. Some of the songs from his father’s vast catalog included Iron Lion Zion, Is This Love, No Woman No Cry, and Redemption Song.
Ky-Mani’s band, Konfrontation, played each song on the set list beautifully. Ky-Mani was full of
energy the entire set and gave the audience some things to think about along the way. When Ky-Mani performed his new hit, Be Smart, he advised the crowd to always read the fine print of any document before signing it. Other striking standouts were Ky-Mani’s powerful performance of Iron Lion Zion. Ky-Mani marched thru the performance with the crowd chanting the chorus Ky-Mani’s vibrant smile warmed the hearts of the audience as he sang with us. Notice I said with us since we were shouting so loud. A gentleman began to dance in a closed area in front of the stage with such joy and passion the security guards let him be. That was the effect Ky- Mani’s performance had on everyone. Ky-Mani and his band filled the audience’s hearts with pure joy while we were baking in the sun. Ky-Mani ended the hour and fifteen minute great performance with his father’s classic, One Love. The crowd sang every note with Ky-Mani. A perfect song to end the perfect show. There was so much excitement for Ky-Mani he had to run to his transportation vehicle.
That evening marked the second Ky-Mani performance of the day at BB Kings. I noticed some of the same faces at the BB King’s show that attended the earlier show. I even walked up to one guy and mentioned that I saw him at the earlier show. He responded that Ky-Mani never came to the NYC area so he felt he had to savor both shows. I couldn’t blame him because that is the same reason I was there. My friends and I also met a fan who was inspired to start painting portraits after reading Ky-Mani’s book, Dear Dad. The portrait he brought for Ky-Mani to sign was only the third portrait he ever painted.
The band entered the stage and again began playing a medley of songs from both father and son. Once again Ky-Mani entered the stage to his powerful not yet released song, Praise to Jah, and the crowd went wild. The set list for this show was pretty much the same as earlier in the day, except for a few additions. During Ghetto Soldier, Ky-Mani explained to the crowd that he was not a gangsta rapper, like some blogs claimed, but an artist who was simply representing who he was. Some of the crowd reacted so strongly to his performance that they began jumping on the stage. I also felt the positive energy Ky-Mani and the band spread
amongst the crowd so couldn’t blame the fans for jumping on stage. One lucky fan was asked back to the stage and Ky-Mani sang Royal Vibes to her. You could see the look of pure delight on her face as she watched Ky-Mani sing to her and the audience. The band again performed beautifully through the entire set.
Selena Serrano,Ky-Mani’s backup singer, sang magnificently both shows that day. Her beautiful voice was clearly heard and was a perfect complement to Ky-Mani’s. She stood out especially on such songs as Ky-Mani’s Brave Ones and his dad’s classic No Woman No Cry. She moved in perfect motion with Ky-Mani during The March. Her March echoed the seriousness of the song to show attendees.
The BB Kings crowd showed their love and appreciation for Ky-Mani and did not want the show to end. Ky-Mani returned to perform one encore which included Armed and Dangerous and Redemption Song. As the band was playing One Love, the crowd began to sing every word with Ky-Mani. The audience felt a feeling in their hearts that can only be described as One Love.
At the conclusion of the show, the audience did not move and began to start clapping. Before the crowd could begin chanting Ky-Mani’s name, lights were turned on inside the venue. It was then that the crowd began to leave the venue. One fan echoed the same sentiments I had as she was leaving the venue, he better not take four years to come back with the band. It’s been too long.
Ky-Mani performed both shows with all the joy and excitement he could give. I felt a piece of him touch the audience as he performed. The audiences for both shows that day left happy and fulfilled. Ky-Mani left an indelible mark on NYC that we surely will not forget. Hurry back Ky-Mani, we cannot wait for your return.